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Examining Users on News Provider Web Sites: A Review of Methodology

William Gibbs

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 3, Issue 3, May 2008, pp. 129-148

Article Contents


This section presents findings from data analysis. The findings section is followed by a review of methodology.

General interaction patterns

The following sections present information about time browsing and mouse events.

Time browsing

On average, participants spent 4 minutes on tasks. Initial visits to site home pages lasted an average of 45 seconds (see Table 1). Those with the directed task spent an average of 3 seconds longer on initial visits to home pages than those with the semi-directed task.

Table 1. Average time spend on home page
Mean 0:41:4 0:45:0 0:49:4 0:39:2 0:51:2 0:45:0
Max. 1:36:0 1:48:0 2:11:0 2:32:0 2:55:0 1:44:0
Min. 0:02:0 0:07:0 0:04:0 0:05:0 0:03:0 0:14:0
Mouse events

The news sites used in this study had much breadth with numerous links on the home page. During the tasks, the mean number of mouse clicks used to reach the target was 18, with those performing the directed task having slightly more clicks (M=19) than those with the semi-directed task (M=17) (see Table 2).

The Back button is used heavily during navigation and may account for 30% to 40% of navigation events (Catledge & Pitkow, 1995; Tauscher & Greenberg, 1997). Participants clicked Back 271 times across all tasks accounting for 8% of all clicks or navigation events. Participants performing the directed task click Back more (M=11) than those with the semi-directed task (M=7).

Table 2. Average number of mouse clicks by site
Combined 17.5 16.2 16.3 19.2 17.8 20.0
Directed 19.4 17.9 17.07 21.1 19.2 20.7
Non Directed 16.0 14.8 15.8 17.7 16.6 19.5


There were 82 searches or instances when participants used the site's search facility. Individuals performing the directed task made 79 of the searches and those with the semi-directed task performed 3 searches. Most participants began by browsing and only after some attempt at browsing they used the search facility. On average it took participants 1 minute and 7 seconds before they abandoned browsing and performed a search.

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